13 Signs You’re About to Be Pickpocketed
Make sure you know the signs that a pickpocket is nearby, and take precautions so that the pocket that gets picked isn’t yours!
Somebody tries to get you to look at a map
Posing as tourists themselves, pickpockets may go up to a target and ask them for help reading a map or finding a destination. Be especially concerned if they’re particularly aggressive and try to shove the map close to your face. Of course, it really could be someone who needs help, so try to avoid being rude, but consider just apologizing and saying you can’t help. If you do decide to help them, make sure you remain alert, looking around for a potential accomplice who might swoop in. Or, better yet, have someone you’re traveling with, and trust, keep a close eye on your valuables the entire time. Some other variations of this trick involve people asking you to sign a petition or read a flyer or brochure.
Someone spills something nearby
Here’s another surefire way to get you rattled and distracted. Again, using crowds and chaos to their advantage, would-be thieves drop coffee, ice cream, or some equally messy substance nearby (or even directly on!) their chosen target. Whether this makes that person rush to offer help or just makes them more flustered and distracted, the thieves can take advantage. This method is especially common near ATMs, where pickpockets might zero in on people who’ve just withdrawn cash. Be especially wary if someone spills something on you and offers to help clean up your clothes; chances are they’re going to snatch something from your pocket instead.
You don’t think it can happen to you
“But I’d know if someone grabbed my wallet!” people say all-too-commonly. News flash: Most pickpockets are experts. “I have always said a good pickpocket could pick me clean and I would never feel it,” warns Turner. Are you really certain that you couldn’t possibly get your pockets picked without realizing, or are you just in denial? It can and does happen, so don’t just assume the rules don’t apply to you. Indeed, “the greatest advantage that pickpockets have is that most people think it can’t happen to them,” says Turner. For more advice on how to stay safe from pickpockets, learn the 18 secrets they won’t tell you.